Today's poem is by Betsy Sholl


Wharves with their warehouses sagging
   on wooden slats, windows steamed up
     and beaded with rain—it's a wonder

weather doesn't wash them away. In time,
   they seem to say, you'll be gone too,
     your belongings left on a quay for the taking...

What's there to do, but stroll over cobbled streets,
   listing letters you owe, books, food, anything solid—
     cement stairs, bike chains, manhole covers,

anything to weigh yourself down. But later,
   sleeping, you'll run like rain downhill
     back to those ramshackle buildings

stacked like crates, windows pitted with salt,
   doors barely held on their hinges.
     You'll be there, on the slotted dock

with its barnacled pilings, its green
   weedy skirts that shimmy in slow time
     against wave wrack and slump: at home

in that floating world, as water unravels
   masts into rippling flags. You'll hear
     engine grind, halyard clank, and fog's

ghostly horn declaring water takes all
   in the end. Or is that the voice of some other
     shadowy self just wanting to see

how insubstantial we are, how loosely moored
   to everything solid—and yet, here,
     for a time, within this wash of oilslick

and cloud drift, this long-stemmed sea,
   star-floating, gull-feathered, where all things
     that have to end, begin.

Copyright © 2003 Betsy Sholl All rights reserved
from Rivendell
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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